Summary: After a car accident, Hyde wakes up to a twisted version of reality he comes to find is actual hell and with no memory of how he got there, a hell that Jackie's been living in for the past few months. Set during Season 8, shortly after "Sweet Lady.
Disclaimer: I don't own this show, because if I did, this story wouldn't be necessary to fix the actual hell that was Season 8.
Rating: The gang's potty mouths make this worthy of an M rating. What can I say? Hell is shitty; ain't no way around it.
Author's Note: I had the idea for this back in 2011 and just never had any clue where to go with it. Honestly, the edges are still a little warbled, but I'm itching to see where it goes. Join me :) Also, I have to warn you guys. I haven't actually watched Season 8 fully, just a couple of clips and the finale. Anything else is plain ol' torture. I'm basing my knowledge on other stories I've read that talk about it some and episode summaries from Wikipedia. Please forgive me if I get some details wrong.
The title is from the opening lines of Dante's Inferno:
Midway on our life's journey, I found myself
In dark woods, the right road lost. To tell
About those woods is rough-so tangled and hard...
Like I said. Season 8 is hell.
He remembered the smell of her hair and the small pout of her lip as she looked at him. He remembered thinking how right she always felt when he held her, but ultimately he remembered how shitty it felt to be second best to Kelso. Again.
February 14, 1978
"So, that's your story? It didn't mean anything?"
"Right! Right, so…so, you just need to get over it."
"Oh. Yeah, don't worry. I'm over it." He folded his arms in front of his chest, a secondary barrier against her, and pulled his face into indifference. "In fact, I'm over you."
Her face froze for a second before realization dawned on her. "Wait, Steven. What are you saying?"
He vaguely heard Fez clarify his words for her, so busy was he focusing on the change in her delicate features, the hurt that entered her gaze as she looked at him. That look tore him up then, but little did he know it was nothing compared to the defeated sadness she would fix him with much, much later.
He shrugged and watched her turn and run out the room. He forced his heart to slow down and sit calmly on the sofa, determined to give nothing away.
Later, she turned his world upside down—again—with those three little words he never knew he needed to hear.
February 10, 1979
His head was pounding and a deep groan escaped his dry, chapped lips. He felt like he was suffering from the world's worst hangover, only he couldn't remember drinking anything at all the previous night. Was he hungover?
Shit. It felt like he was.
But something wasn't right. His cot was too soft, too flat. And it smelled different. Sterile.
Slowly, Hyde cracked open his eyes and emitted another groan at the harsh light, realizing then that he wasn't on the cot in the basement. He was in a bed, and a hospital bed by the looks of it.
"Hyde!" Donna shouted when she heard his second groan and ran over to his side. "You're awake! Oh, my god. How do you feel? Well, why the hell would I ask that, right? I mean, you probably feel pretty crappy. I've never been in a car crash, but I can imagine it doesn't feel good waking up from one."
Hyde groaned again before licking his dry, chapped lips. "Car crash?"
"Yeah, don't you… do you not remember it?"
Tiredly, Hyde looked up at her from his position on the bed.
"Shit. Let me go get the nurse or somebody."
She turned quickly, her look expectant.
"Hand me that cup, will you?"
"Oh, right. The nurse said you'd probably be thirsty, what with all the meds and stuff. Here."
"Thanks," he said softly, taking a long sip from the straw, before nodding at her. "You can go do what you were gonna do."
"Oh, right. Okay, I'll be right back."
She walked out quickly, making sure to not slam the door behind her. Hyde looked around the room and grimaced. He hated hospitals, always had. They were too white, too clean. He spotted Kelso asleep on the couch across from the room, drool seeping onto the armrest his head was laying on.
"Kelso. Hey, Kelso!"
He jerked awake. "Wha—? Nobody touches the bunnies! Wait…where am I?"
Hyde rolled his eyes. "In the hospital. Now my turn. What the hell happened?"
"Oh," Kelso said around a yawn, rubbing his eyes tiredly. "You're up. Finally. How do you feel?"
"Like shit. Man, tell me what the hell I'm doing here."
"You don't remember. Yeah, the doctor mentioned something about that. You were in a car crash. It was pretty bad."
"Anyone else hurt?"
"No, you were the only one. Mrs. Forman went ballistic when the nurse said that made you lucky. Of course, she started crying the second she saw you, so I doubt she saw any of this as lucky. She yelled at the chick and said she wanted a new nurse, one who knew how to talk to a patient's family." Kelso laughed. "You should have seen the look on Mrs. Forman's face when the nurse said that technically we weren't family, according to your chart. Oh, W.B. was here but he had to go back to work. He said he'd come by again later."
Hyde nodded. "The accident, was it that bad?"
"Sorta, yeah. It happened yesterday morning. You were driving to meet the Formans and Donna…umm…somewhere. I guess a kid was on his bike in the middle of the road and you swerved and missed him but slammed right into a brick wall. The kid's okay. And somehow the Camino's fine but that wall isn't. They said you hit your head on the steering wheel and blacked out immediately. There was some swelling, which I guess is why you've been out this whole time."
"What time is it?"
"Almost nine at night."
"Damn." Hyde nodded and looked around the room, finally noticing how quiet it was. Something was missing.
"Where is she?"
"Who? Mrs. Forman?"
If Hyde could have punched him, he would have. "No, moron, my girl."
Kelso paused at the concern he heard in his friend's voice. He hadn't realized Hyde cared so much about the leggy blonde. "Oh, she's down at the cafeteria with Fez."
"Oh. Figured she would have been here shoving flowers and chocolate in my face or something."
Kelso looked at him funny. "Flowers? That doesn't seem like her. But I guess you know her more than the rest of us." He shrugged and sat back on the couch. "The whole thing pretty much tore us up but she was pretty calm throughout it all. I'm sure she'll be happy to see you're okay though."
Something wasn't right. Nothing of what Kelso said matched up with what he… hell, what everyone knew about Jackie. Calm? Never.
"Well, can you go get her? Chocolate or not, I wanna see my girlfriend."
Kelso, still tired, had rested his head back against the couch. But at Hyde's words, he slowly lifted back up and looked at Hyde in confusion. "Girlfriend? You mean your wife?"
"Wife… I married her?"
"Well, yeah. I mean, it shocked all of us, but yeah. You don't remember?"
"No. But I guess I would have done it anyway."
"I thought you said it was a spur of the moment thing. How would you have 'done it anyway'?"
"What the hell are you talking about? You were there. You knew how hard up she was about getting married. I mean, I didn't think it would happen this quickly, but it was bound to. Don't tell her I forgot though. She'd kill me."
"Don't get mad at me for saying this, but I don't actually think Sam would mind."
Hyde opened his eyes and looked at Kelso, expecting a goofy smile but seeing nothing but confusion. "Sam? Who the hell is Sam? I'm talking about Jackie, Kelso. You know, the 95 pound brunette you keep trying to steal from me?"
Kelso stood very still, his eyes growing rounder as something—a really, really bad feeling—hit him in the gut. Something was definitely not right here.
The doc said that other than a little memory loss and a couple of fractures, Hyde would be fine. He might not remember the accident but that's it.
This was definitely not a little memory loss.
"What's the last thing you remember, man?"
Hyde sighed and leaned his head back against his pillow, closing his eyes. "Me and Jackie beat out Forman and Donna as Betsy's godparents and they got really pissed. I guess there's some stuff between now and then if I've actually married her though. Damn. I really didn't think that would happen for a while. A couple of years at least."
Slowly, Kelso backed up towards the doorway. "Uhh, let me just go grab someone. I'll be right back." He turned quickly and almost ran into Donna.
"Hey, the nurse is busy but she'll be here in a se—whoa. Kelso!"
Kelso, not stopping, immediately grabbed Donna's arm and pulled her behind him out of the hospital room. "Nurse isn't good enough," he said to her, his voice low as the door shut softly behind him. "We need the doctor. Now."
Author's Note: Please review and let me know what you think! Second chapter will be up soon. I know I'm most likely taking some serious liberties with the memory loss stuff, but in fiction, anything is possible. Right?